The excessive and public consumption of alcohol with other men has been a traditional indication of manliness in Western cultures for many years. However, over the last two decades, this association has been eroded, in part through increased consumption by women. Within the gender-relational context of this increase, we empirically explore ways in which particular (friendship) groups of young men and women (re)construct masculine identities. The male participants demonstrated greater discursive flexibility in enacting their gender identities through alcohol consumption compared with earlier NZ research although also greater constraints on change compared with more recent UK research. A minority of men constructed themselves as atypical in that they did not like rugby, beer or consuming vast quantities of alcohol. These men were all in professional occupations, and we speculate that their social class and financial status may enable them to negotiate alternative demonstrations of masculinity. We conclude that these findings could be explicated through an examination of national gendered identities that arose out of a pioneer culture, and the commodification of gender identities through alcohol consumption. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.